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Wolfenstein: The New Order review – Silly in the best possible way

  • Written by Petrus-Iulian "Devon" Fatu
  • Published in Shooter reviews

First Look

The New Order, from a design standpoint was a sheer delight to experience. Graphically, it stood out at every point, whether it meant creative and dramatic use of lighting and colour (which gave even industrial looking grey/brown environments personality and memorability), completely outlandish tesla-powered machinery gratuitously daubed with Swastikas and Iron Crosses, laser-gatling-armed Ubermensch super-soldiers, or cyclopean robots able to crush you underfoot.

Wolfenstein New Order - Nazi Land 

The game intelligently alternates between the unashamedly over-the-top, the scary and the heartbreaking, its style delivering an experience that simultaneously lets you have fun blowing future Nazis up, but never letting you forget the truth of the horrors their historical counterparts perpetrated. And it does the latter in a subtle way to boot; if the violence is in your face, the ideology that spawned the atrocities is understated, but always present in the background, made ubiquitous by the 15 years it had to fester in the game’s timeline (but more on that below).

What adds greatly to the mood is the sound engineering, which is top notch. Carefully placed atmospheric cues and ambient sounds, and music that is not in and of itself remarkable, but is effectively used in all the right places. A bit of amusing audio-based world-building is offered by german-language versions of songs by The Monkees, Beach Boys, and The Beatles (“Die Kafer” in the game’s world), which you can collect in the game then listen to at your leisure in the Extras menu.

Wolfenstein new Order - Nazie Baddie

Finally, I have to make mention of the characters’ outstanding facial animations, occasional lip synch issues mentioned above notwithstanding. This game showcases the detail next-gen games are capable of, both in appearance and expressivity. The game is one of the examples of a steady push past the uncanny valley, and into true realism.

Optimization

The New Order comes well equipped where video options are concerned, with features that really should be standard for any AAA shooter worth its salt. You can choose either Fullscreen, Windowed, or borderless window modes, you can select which display to run the game on, which is a nice touch, and finally you can set the Field of View from the default of 80, up to 100, which should satisfy most gamers. Beyond that, there are articles online that show how to tweak the FOV by console. The selection of resolutions depends on the aspect ratio of the display you’re running the game on, but overall is pretty good and even goes up to 4K, should your display support it.

The game is quite scalable graphically, and has individual options for adjust the shadow buffer, enabling or disabling DoF, screen-space reflections, haze flares, and adjusting texture compression and streaming. The latter causes one of the few bugs I’ve found with the game, as even with my card’s generous 2GB of VRAM textures were slow to load in some areas, causing rather noticeable and annoying pop-in.

Wolfenstein The New Order - Video OptionsWolfenstein The New Order - Advanced Graphical Quality

Another albeit small point of contention I have with the options we are given is that texture filtering, shadow complexity and lighting quality are all lumped together in one “Additional Quality Settings” options, with no possibility to adjust these individually. Also noticeably missing are options for any sort of ambient occlusion and more disappointingly, Anti-Aliasing. PC gamers can at least force it from their graphics cards settings, but it really should have been there. 

That said, the game is very well optimized. The requirements list a Quad-Core machine as recommended, but it ran at 55-60 FPS for most of the game, even on an older Dual-Core rig, with the occasional frame rate drop in heavy atmospheric conditions, but never lower than 30 FPS.

Sound options are pretty basic, with only one master slider. Music can be disabled separately but there is no separate volume slider for it or anything like voices and such. And I have to tell you, that option would have come in handy in parts of the game when you’re trying to pick out radio transmissions from NPCs through the din of combat.

Wolfenstein The New Order - Audio

This is also the place where I’d like to mention the game’s other annoying recurring bug, periodic audio desynchronizations during character speech. It didn’t happen all the time, but on occasion the image and of course lip synch would lag behind the speech audio by as much as 3-4 seconds, even when the game ran at 60 FPS. It also seemed to happen randomly as reloading the scene would fix the issue most times.

Minimum System Requirements

CPU

Core 2 Duo E4400, Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 4200+

RAM

2 GB RAM

HDD

6GB available

Video

nVidia GeForce 9500 GT or AMD Radeon X850 XT (1GB VRAM)

Operating System

Win XP, Windows 7, Windows 8, Win 8.1

Network

-

 

Gaming Rig

CPU

Intel Core i5-2500K @ 3300 Mhz

RAM

Corsair 8GB, DDR3

HDD

OCZ Agility3 60GB, SATA3

Video

 Asus Radeon 6950 DirectCU II & MSI NVidia GTX 680 OC TwinFrozr 

Operating System

Windows 7

Network

Broadband

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